Thursday, March 6, 2014

Thursday Trivia: Rock Hound

"rock-hound (n.)
1921, from rock (n.1) + hound (n.). Used variously of geologists, mineralogists, and amateur collectors."

If you’ve ever been drawn into the fascinating world of geology – rock collecting, spelunking, the works – then you’ve probably heard this phrase.

Girl dogs are rock hounds, too! Photo: misshappiness

“Rock hound” is what is known in the Word World as an Americanism. Basically, slang that has its roots in the U.S.A. That being the case, it’s necessarily a lot younger than many phrases we’ve researched in this series!

public domain
The Online Etymology Dictionary points us to the Roaring Twenties for this phrase’s origins. And indeed it was.

It took a little digging, but we found its first known use in print in a November, 1920 issue of a trade magazine called Natural Gas:

“C.A. Warner, ex-field geologist for the Empire Gas & Fuel Company, has written an interesting book, “A Book of Practical Field Methods,” that does away with much of the uncertainty of field mapping.

"It also explains how a “rock hound” may more efficiently collect information after an area has begun to produce either oil or gas.”

We were actually kind of surprised to discover that a term for studying rocks had its origins in the early days of gas and oil.

We would have thought its roots were more pure (e.g. associated with the study of rock formations, etc).

But then again, our first guesses are often misplaced, which is what makes this series so much fun for us to write!

Every good rock hound has a chisel!
Photo: Miguel Vera

Sources: Definition
Etymology Online
Memidex: Rock hound
Natural Gas Magazine, Volumes 1-2, Natural Gas Publishing Company, 1920


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  1. That was interesting as we have never heard of rock hound before and we did like today's pic to go with it. Have a tremendous Thursday.
    Best wishes Molly

  2. I love the rocks over the beach :) I have never heard of that before. xxooxxx

    Mollie and Alfie

  3. Well we'd heard the term but had no idea WHERE it came from! I always find these little excursions into the origin of sayings SUPER interesting!!!

    Hugs, Sammy

    1. Aw, thanks Sammy! We have so much fun (making our mom) research it!

  4. We've never heard of this term before. That doggy on the rocks is very pretty!

  5. guyz...thanx for de boys all ways thinked natural gas wuz a fart :)

  6. The sophomoric minds here are giggling over a magazine called Natural Gas.
    ; )

    1. Faraday: For REALZ! Mommy accuses me of that, like, ALL the time.

  7. I think that must definitely be an American term, as we've never heard of it before! There's plenty of natural gas around here though! ;0

  8. We love the trivia you write about. Have a goodie fur you on our blog today

    1. ooooh THANKS, Timmy! We can't wait to see what it is!


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